On Friday, May 1st, the known right-wing radio host Jay Severin of Boston’s WTKK-FM station was suspended indefinitely for various hate comments he made about Mexican immigrants. Shortly after the outbreak of the Swine Flu in the States, Severin began calling Mexican immigrants the “world’s lowest of primitives,” among other tasteless and ignorant hate-driven comments. He blamed them for destroying our schools and hospitals, and he even went as far as claiming that “in addition to venereal disease and the other leading exports of Mexico – women with mustaches and VD – now we have swine flu.”
His suspension was primarily a result of callers complaining that such language and speech should not be permitted on any grounds. The radio station declined all comments, stating only that “the station has not been using the remarks for which he has been suspended in on-air promos.” Severin and his attorney George Tobia also declined to comment on the suspension. There has been no indication as to which statement led to his suspension.
The battle between prohibiting hate speech and arguments for freedom of speech is an ongoing debate. Where does one draw the line between the two? Opponents of hate speech rightfully make the point that comments such as these are destructive to fabrics of society, and – more importantly – they can greatly influence the proliferation of hate crimes. Severin calling the immigrants “leeches” is exactly the type of speech the Latino community should continue to stand up against. It can only lead to increased xenophobia, prejudice, racism and discrimination.
In addition, our community should continue to educate the rest of American society on how these stereotypes are often harmful and inaccurate. Latinos are not the outsiders, but instead a growing faction of American society. Media personalities are responsible for reflecting this in their broadcasts, as they help shape the perception that America as a whole views immigrants.
Indeed, Severin’s comments are intentionally slandering and dangerous, particularly his stating that “it’s millions of leeches from a primitive country [coming here] to leech off of you and, with it, they are ruining the schools, hospitals, and a lot of life in America.”
– Marianne Peterson